It has been over half a century since the Nottingham Panthers lifted a league title. It is a constant thorn in the side of one of the UK’s biggest names in the sport and each season the pundits argue about whether it will be the year or not. The comparisons to the New York Rangers in 1994 are plentiful and today may have gotten one more.
The signing of Jonathan Weaver today could be the Panthers ‘Messier Moment’. The signing of Mark Messier gave the Rangers new leadership and confidence that ultimately lead to the Stanley Cup. Weaver certainly contains those qualities and has no lack of experience on defence. The Sunderland born Weaver has captained the Coventry Blaze to Elite League glory in 2010 and was the Great Britain captain on top of his AHL, Superleague and British National League experience.
The move has come at a cost though for Panthers. 6 year veteren Panther and current captain Danny Meyers has been released mid way through his 2 year contract and his release has not been meet with the best of reactions from the Panthers players. Jordan Fox announcing on his twitter that Meyers was the best captain he ever played for.
Whilst Weaver is an experienced and talented defenseman some have questioned whether his ages is starting to show and at 35 it is a questionable move when you consider Meyers is 29. It is also means the Panthers number one defence partnership (Weaver and player – coach Corey Neilsen) will have a combined age of 71 when the season gets underway.
However if this is to be the Panthers ‘Messier Moment’ for the Rangers of British ice hockey then age can be a friend. It was worth bearing in a mind Mark Messier was 33 when he guided the Rangers to Stanley Cup victory. But surely for this to be the moment that turns a side into a title winner then putting a senior British international with plenty of Elite League experience who is well respected amongst the league back on the market may come back to ruin the comparison.